| 25 May 2024
Music channels: A return to basics

MUMBAI: If 2010 was the year of uncertainty for the music channels, 2011 definitely is a return to basics. The music and youth TV channel genre, which saw major changes last year, now seems to be settling down a bit. While many new players have come in, most of them have upped their music quotient.

The space has got further cluttered with the launch of new players like UTV Stars, MTunes and Sony Mix. The severity of the competition can be gauged by the fact that seven channels have their shares between 10-15 per cent.

To add to the woes of the channel executives, the audience which they cater to are too fickle and the music they have is not exclusive. So what is it that is keeping the channels alive?

A senior channel executive of a newly launched channel said that even among the music/youth genre, there is clear demarcation. There are back-to-back music channels (like 9XM, Mastiii up to certain extent, Music India and now Mix); then so called youth channels... (MTV, UTV Bindass, Channel [V]) who keep re-looking at their content model and keep increasing or decreasing music content; and Bollywood channels (Zoom, UTV Stars, E24).

"The problem is that everyone is playing music. But when TAM ratings come, they say their audiences are different. Some cater to 15-24 years HSM; some go after only Metros. But music is universal. And one look at TAM data suggests that viewers are looking for pure form of music," the executive said on condition of anonymity.

TAM data from January – August for the 15+ age group in the Hindi speaking markets shows 9XM as the leading channel with an average of over 15 per cent, while MTV and Sri Adhikari Brothers' Mastiii are close followers with just over 14 per cent share of the genre.

After these three channels come B4U Music, Bindass, Zoom and Channel [V] with 11.9 per cent, 11.6 per cent, 10.6 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively.

While 9XM is sticking to its core music philosophy with animated characters, Mastiii has recently started seasonal full-length shows. Earlier the channel had only comedy fillers.

Mastiii has climbed to the top because of its novelty factor. We are sticking to 70 per cent music and 30 per cent comedy content. We have started seasonal full-length shows, but they won't be like general entertainment channels,... Sri Adhikari Brothers Group vice chairman and MD Markand Adhikari said.

Mastiii had first divided the music in daypart programming with late night slots for retro songs. Now as Sony Mix has also been launched with a similar daypart strategy, Adhikari is not worried. "It is a free media and anybody can launch a music channel. It is all about how different you are. In Mastiii, music and comedy are nicely interwoven."

While many channels believe that only Bollywood music works in India, MTV has taken a separate path. The channel, which had earlier shed music content, has now got international shows and is promoting different forms of music. It had got Coke Studio earlier and will be launching Unplugged from 1 October.

"Coke Studio was one effort to get the artists on one stage Unplugged is another initiative which shows that M will always be at the heart of MTV. There is much more music on MTV today and it is not just Bollywood music. As a youth channel, we give a platform for other genres of music as well," MTV India channel head Aditya Swamy said.

Even players like Zoom, UTV Stars, Bindass and Channel [V] play music in the morning and evenings. And many times the content is without breaks; but they don't like to be called music channels.

While Zoom and UTV Stars want to be associated with Bollywood and glamour, Bindass and Channel [V] are youth channels.

Channel [V] EVP and general manager Prem Kamath said, "We are essentially a youth channel. Ours is the only channel which airs youth fiction between 7-8 pm daily and we often get better ratings than GECs in our demographic (15-24, Metros)."

Competition has expanded the viewership for music channels. The music genre's share among the overall TV pie has increased from 4.3 per cent in the first quarter (week 1 -13, 2011) to 4.46 per cent in the second quarter (week 14-26). With more channel launches, this is expected to grow further. But to keep the genre alive it is important to expand the revenue pie.